Do Vegans Need Supplements?
A lot of you Kind Lifers write in to ask whether or not you should be taking supplements. While I don’t personally take a daily vitamin, I do take an occasional B12 supplement and, while I was pregnant with Bear, I took a vegan prenatal vitamin most of the time. And while breastfeeding, I try to remember to take the prenatal, but I still maintain that I never feel one bit better if I take vitamins than if I don’t. I only feel better from good, superhero food.
That said, daily supplements are a personal choice, and for some people they are helpful. I asked macrobiotic expert Christina Pirello to weigh in on the topic to help all of you make an informed choice next time you find yourself in the vitamins and supplements section of the grocery store:
I think that everyone needs some supplementing. If you had asked me this question ten years ago, I would have answered differently, but in that short time, our food has changed so much. Our soil is weaker; our water is more polluted, so the result is that food is less nutrient-dense. Unless you are eating a perfect diet of homegrown food, most of us need some supplementing – even superheroes who eat very well most of the time.
In my view, most people should take an antioxidant for immune function, and for general anti-aging. The one I like best is called astasanthin, and the brand I use is Asta Vita. They have one version of the supplement that is in a vegan gel cap, so us vegans can take it comfortably.
Vegans and non-vegans alike, but especially vegans, need to take Vitamin B12. It used to be that people who ate animal food were getting the B12 they needed, but with our food becoming more compromised, B12 is not there, and we need to get it. Small amounts to be sure, but still, it should be taken daily. If you are a vegan, I usually say 100-250 mcg daily in sublingual form. If you are not vegan, you can take as little as 50 mcg a day.
Vitamin D is controversial. Some experts say we do not need to take it, just get it from the sun – but my experience has shown me otherwise. No matter how much sun you get, unless you live in Southern California, or Florida (for example), you are not getting enough sun because of pollution. So many people, the majority in fact, are not getting enough, and are vitamin D deficient. It needs to be taken – at least 1000 iu per day. If a blood test shows your levels are low, you may need more. Keep in mind, Vitamin D2 is vegan while D3 is not. You need to take one of those so your body can use the vitamin well.
your nutrients should come from food. That said, everyone needs a little help, so I tend to steer people toward supplements that are vegan and made from food.
Lastly, if you do not eat fermented foods (like miso and sauerkraut), you may want to take a pro-biotic for digestion.
Thank you, Christina!
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I hope everyone found this helpful. Do you take supplements? What do you take?